State cuts to Wake come into focus

Staff WriterAugust 11, 2009 

— The Wake commissioners got a quick view of how state budget cuts will affect county government during a work session Monday.

Although they can't detail the full extent of the state's fiscal belt-tightening, County Budget Director Mack Wilson and County Manager David Cooke gave a $1.45 million sampling of revenue losses the county is expected to experience during this fiscal year.

The cuts in state money to the county include:

$500,000 in lost ABC revenue from the county's share of taxes on beer, wine and liquor sales, money that will now stay in state coffers. In May, Wake County received $800,000 in ABC tax revenue.

$350,000 that the state will no longer pay to lease space for local probation officers. Probation services fall under the state Department of Correction, and state money had paid for leasing and furnishing probation offices in Wake County, but that expense will now fall on the county. This could result in moving the probation offices to less expensive space, Cooke said.

$600,000 in lost reimbursements to the Wake County Sheriff's Office to cover the housing of state prison inmates in the county jail. The state had been reimbursing the county $18 per day for every convicted state inmate serving more than 30 days in the county jail, and that will no longer be paid.

The county must continue all inmate services for prisoners covered by the $18 subsidy. Of all the cuts announced Monday, Cooke said the hit to the sheriff's office was the biggest surprise.

Cooke warned that the county would likely face more cuts in other areas, particularly in human services. The state Department of Health and Human Services has yet to make publicwhat sort of cuts Wake County will experience.

In education, the Wake County Public School System will have to trim its budget by more than $20 million in "flexible reductions," that is, discretionary cuts the state left up to the superintendent's office. But including cuts dictated by the state, that number will end up closer to $40 million.

Cooke said the superintendent's office was not surprised by the amount of the cuts.

Passed in May, Wake County's budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, is $953.6 million and counted on $113.1 million in revenue from the state. But Wake will have to make up for the state shortfall by reducing costs or increasing revenue.

gabe.starosta@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4520

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